Rest Day

Throwback to TFBA Charlotte, the original CFSBK mom

CrossFitting While Pregnant: An Interview with Four Women and a Coach, Part 3

By Kate Reece

In case you missed it last week, we continued our three-part series about training CrossFit while pregnant. In Part 1, we introduced you to four CFSBK women who became pregnant in the midst of their training, and also spoke with Coach Fox. The women answered our questions about their reaction to finding out they were pregnant and the best kinds of advice they received. Last week in Part 2, we heard from them about whether they continued to CrossFit after becoming pregnant and how that decision affected their experience. We also asked them to share any advice they might have for other women. Coach Fox weighed in with his advice for women who become pregnant and want to continue training. (He also wrote a helpful document called Guidelines for Training While Pregnant at CFSBK, which we wrote about on Inside the Affiliate.)

This week, we’re concluding our series by addressing the postpartum experience of getting back into the gym. 

CFSBK: Talk to us about getting back into the game after giving birth. How did it go for you? Did you have a plan going into it? Did your body interrupt those plans? What advice would you give to other postpartum women? 

Bethany E.: After Alex was born, I waited for my requisite midwife clearance and came back to the gym around six weeks postpartum. I think I did some very gentle mobility-type work at home on my own around four weeks but mostly just kept it to walks while I recovered. At my six-week checkup, my midwife diagnosed me with diastasis recti, but said it’d probably close up on its own, so I just came back to group class. I did a small amount of research and knew not to do sit-ups but other than that, I just hoped it’d heal on its own. 

I think it was about six months postpartum with Alex before I started feeling remotely like myself training-wise again, I remember doing a 215-pound deadlift and feeling like I was coming back. However my core weakness was really still an issue and I knew it and could feel it—I still couldn’t do a hollow-hold, for example, and my squat weights weren’t really going anywhere. I found a fellow mom who’d just completed Pilates training and was looking for students and started doing once-a-week sessions with her, which helped. We did super-modified Pilates and yoga in my home once a week and my diastasis closed around the time Alex turned one. I vowed for any subsequent pregnancies to address any diastasis and core weakness first before hitting the weights hard. Right about the time I was starting to feel strong again, I got pregnant with Oscar.

My postpartum experience with Oscar was very different. Because I’d worked out the entire 39 weeks of my pregnancy, and because it was my second baby, my recovery was much easier. I felt energetic and healthy and also very, very anxious to get back into the gym (hello, crazy post-partum hormones!). I don’t know why I let myself do this, but I came back to group class around three or four weeks postpartum which was too soon. I had diastasis recti again, my entire core was mush, and I had additionally been diagnosed by my midwife with pelvic floor prolapse, which I was slightly in denial about. I started physical therapy and was lucky to get a therapist who does CrossFit and who advised me that it probably wasn’t the best idea to be back. After my own additional research, I realized she was right and decided to back off of CrossFit for a bit and put all my efforts towards dealing with the diastasis and prolapse.

I’ve been doing the MuTu Focus program every day for the past 10 weeks and my diastasis is nearly closed up, which is fantastic. I’ve returned to group classes occasionally when I can modify the movements to be safe for me (no heavy lifting, no heavy kettlebell swings, etc.), and am in general just trying to feel out what works and what doesn’t. Anything that creates too much intra-abdominal pressure is out, which is a lot at CrossFit. I’ve also been going to KH’s Tuesday night Pilates class when I can, and was just careful to modify any movements there that were too advanced for my recovering core or unsafe for diastasis. I’ve been seeing Debbie Parsons [link] once a month to help me with my alignment and breathing. So, on the positive side, even though I’ve been absent from any regular lifting and training at CFSBK, my body at five months post-partum feels healthy and my core feels stronger than it ever did after having Alex.

Advice I would give any postpartum women: first and foremost, the weeks after having a baby should be about healing and restoring your body while enjoying your baby, not about training or “getting back in shape” or losing weight. Be kind to yourself! Your body and internal organs have been rearranged dramatically, you have to give yourself and, specifically, your pelvic floor some time to heal. There is nothing heroic or bad-ass about coming back to group class too soon. Be on the look-out for crazy postpartum hormones that are telling you otherwise. Wait for your medical clearance, make sure you’ve been tested for diastasis and if you have it, work on closing it first before coming back to group class. If your doctor or midwife doesn’t test you, Google it—the test is very simple. If anything feels “off” down there (i.e. leaking, heaviness or bulging feelings), do not chalk it up to “Oh, I just had a baby.” You need to get it get it diagnosed and deal with it first before putting any stress or weight on it. 

I highly recommend the MuTu System Focus program as your first postpartum exercise. You can start it as early as two weeks postpartum. I wish I’d had it after I had Alex! I’d even recommend it to anyone who hasn’t had a baby, but is dealing with leaking during double-unders. Katy Bowman’s “Katy Says” blog is also an amazing resource for alignment, pregnancy, postpartum, and pelvic floor health.

When you do return to the gym, focus on the basics. Start light and work up from there. Even if you did get to work out the entire pregnancy, you’re going to need to re-learn how to do those movements without a huge belly in front. Make sure your whole-body alignment is good before you start putting any weight on your back. 

I will admit though that after both pregnancies, tears were shed after group classes because I was so humbled at how far my body needed to come fitness-wise to even be at the point it was WHILE I was pregnant! Nobody really tells you that the postpartum period is really hard even if you work out right until the end of your pregnancy. Just know you have the whole rest of your life to be the super-fit mom you want to be. Pat yourself on the back for even making it to the gym, and enjoy your “me time” without getting too hung up on numbers and times.

Noor A.: Because my daughter ended up being breach, I had to have a c-section, and so my required recovery time was about six weeks. But through whatever miracle of surgery my ob/gyn did, I felt ready to come back much, much sooner than that. I think I finally did go back to the gym about a week earlier. I could tell that I had lost some abdominal muscles, I could barely jump up on the small box, hollow rocks were looking more like just plain rocks, but after a few weeks things seem to be getting better. Plus, since I was on unpaid leave for about five months, and Samir was on sabbatical, the gym became our main social space. We hung out there for three hours almost each day, taking turns holding our sweet little sleeping princess in the carrier. Oh, the days when she would just sleep like that, it was amazing!

Courtney S.: This was the part that surprised me the most. Since I had such an easy pregnancy, and trained often during it, I really expected to go back into the gym after my six-week medical clearance and be in the same place that I was before I got pregnant. Not the case. I was completely shocked when the empty barbell (which hadn’t felt heavy at 40-weeks pregnant) felt like it weighed 100 pounds and I could barely lift my toes to the bar. I also really had not accounted for the physical and mental toll that sleep deprivation and breast-feeding a newborn would play in my recovery. 

Having these unrealistic expectations was tough, because I pretty much knew after five minutes in the gym that I was going to have a long road back and I hadn’t expected that. After a few disappointing gym sessions, I decided to take some time off from CrossFit and spent the next few months outside of the gym, re-building some endurance by running and walking. After five months, the baby was sleeping better, I felt less mushy, generally had more energy and was finally eager to get back in the swing of CrossFit-type things. Even four months back into CrossFit, however, it is still not easy and I still oftentimes feel myself getting frustrated with the fact that I am not at the point I was pre-pregnancy.  

In the end, I really wish that people would discuss postpartum recovery more. There is tons of information out there on CrossFit while pregnant, but very little about what to expect what the baby is born, how best to get back into the swing of things, how to deal with breast-feeding while exercising, etc. Which leads me to my biggest piece of advice for postpartum women (and something that I would like to remind myself next time around): be patient with yourself, mama. 

CFSBK: What advice would you give mothers for their game plan after giving birth? Do you have any recommendations for easing back into their training? 

Coach Fox: As some of the women note in this article, they’re often shocked by how hard it is to come back in and train postpartum. When they still have the baby in there, the abdominal wall is stretched out, pelvic floor muscles are stretched too, but you’re still able to brace. Once the baby’s not in there, and you’ve got 30 pounds missing plus some wrecked muscles, you have no idea how to use your abs. The main thing we’re concerned with postpartum is that you’re going to worsen any diastasis recti, or cause more trauma to your pelvic floor. 

So take your time. Don’t come right back. Minimally, we like six weeks, maybe four if someone has had a check-up sooner. It takes time for the muscles in your abdomen and pelvic floor to come back into their normal shape. Furthermore, when you do come back in, look at it as if you’re starting over. It’s not going to take you three years to get you back to where you were—but it might take you a year. Bethany mentioned “crazy postpartum hormones,” and how they can affect your experience in the gym. It’s almost like manic-depression. If you feeling depressive and frustrated with your body, you don't want to get up and go to the gym. Manic is like, “I’m going to PR my squat today.” That could be dangerous. You could wind up prolapsing, you could wind up peeing your pants. Just really be patient coming back in, and as everyone has said, the most important thing is to really listen to your body.

Some parting tips from Bethany E.:

  • Find a good medical team that is on-board with you continuing your pre-pregnancy exercise program.
  • Resist the urge to be a badass at the gym. The fact that you are growing another human being already makes you one!
  • Learn about pelvic floor health and how to reconnect with yours after the baby comes and don’t ignore little signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, like leaking during double-unders.
  • Don’t attempt to train on zero sleep if your baby isn’t sleeping. Take a long walk with your baby instead.
  • Reach out to your fellow CrossFitting moms, as they are an amazing resource. I’m always happy to share birth stories with any interested CFSBK parents-to-be. You can email Coach Fox at Chris [at] CrossFitSouthBrooklyn.com to get my email address.

Useful Links
CrossFit Mom
Be Fit Mom
Habit-it Pelvic Floor 

A huge thank you to all our CFSBK moms who participated in this article series, and to Coach Fox! 

Race, Trust, and Split-Second Judgments Pacific Standard
The Bro Hug: Embracing a Change in Custom New York Times
An Analysis of the Hormonal Response to CrossFit Breaking Muscle
Blown Away in Canton WanderWOD


Rack Jerk or Push Press | WOD 9.29.14

Push Press 5 x 3 Linear Progression
Start light enough to leave room to go up, about 80% of what you did for a single last week. 

Rack Jerk 5 x 1
Hit 5 singles between 80% and 90% of your recent 1RM. If you're feeling good then work at the 90% end, if you're feeling off then work at the 80% end. Your work reps must be no lighter than 80% and no heavier than 90%. 

Post loads to comments.

3 Rounds for Time:
50 Double Unders
20 Russian Kettlebell Swings 72/53
10 Burpees 

Post time and Rx to comments.

CFSBK's team at Beast of the East placed 15th out of 39 teams. Congrats to Alex B. and coaches Jess Fox, MeLo, and McD!!

Where You At, FGB Fundraisers?

DON'T FORGET: Yes, Fight Gone Bad is a great excuse to do a kick-ass workout and have a fun time, but it's also a meaningful fundraiser for Brooklyn Community Foundation, a local organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in Brooklyn by strengthening communities through local giving, grantmaking, and community service. This year, we're partnering with BCF again and hope to surpass last year's donation numbers--of $40,000! Jump on it, guys! We posted some great fundraising tips last week, too.

Congrats to those teams and individually currently topping our leaderboards... But who's ready to knock them off?

Top Five Teams:

  1. Menace to Swolbriety
  2. In WOD We Trust
  3. Wodtoberfest
  4. Fifty Shades of Cray
  5. FGB - Golden Girls

Top Five Individuals: 

  1. Asta F.
  2. Erik B.
  3. Pierre D.
  4. Stella Z.
  5. Janelle B.

New Programming Cycle Starts Today!

You can always check these details by clicking on the Current Programming Cycle tab in the left-hand column under Member Resources, but here's what's on tap for the next eight weeks...

Training Cycle Dates: M 9/29 - Su 11/9
Crush Week: M 11/10 - Su 11/16
Back Off/Transition Week: M 11/17 - Su 11/23 

Cycle Biases: Pretty similar to the previous cycle with a few focuses.
- Strict HSPU (over kipping).
- Rx'd Box Jumps will be 2-foot take off.
- Gymnastics assistance work in the form of static holds, global and hip flexion. 
- We'll also see some Rope Climbs programmed.

Standardized Warm-ups
Will be the same with a few provided to hacks to scale up or work on individual weaknesses.

Performance: Rack Jerk (80-90% range)
Fitness: Push Press (5x3) Linear Progression
+ Conditioning/Assistance Work

Performance: Back Squat 5/3/1 (Trying to get advanced Novices to transition into 531)
Fitness: Back Squat 3x5 Linear Progression
+ Conditioning/Assistance Work

Performance: Clean (80-90% range)
Fitness: Clean (complexes)
+ Conditioning/Assistance Work

Performance: Front Squat (5-5-3-3-2-1)
Fitness: Front Squat 3x3 Linear Progression
+ Conditioning/Assistance Work

Performance: Snatch (80-90% range)
Fitness: Snatch (complexes)
+ Conditioning/Assistance Work

A Defining Question in an iPhone Age: Live for the Moment or Record It? New York Times
The Woman With the Bionic Eye The Atlantic
Loose Knees = Loose Jerks Catalyst Athletics
Juicervose Radiolab 


Snatch | WOD 9.28.14

Performance: Heavy single Snatch
Must be a crisp catch in order to count, no press outs. 

Fitness: Pull to knee + Hang Power Snatch
Focus on finishing your entire second pull.

Post loads to comments.

Performance: Kipping Pull-up Practice  

Fitness: Pull-up or Chin-up Practice

If you barely have one or two pull-ups or dont have pull-ups at all, do the Fitness work.  

Post what you worked on to comments.

Tim J. (Timbo Slice) with an excellent front rack position

News and Notes 

  • Alex B. and coaches Jess Fox, MeLo, and McD are competing in Beast of the East this weekend, and after Day 1, they're 12th out of 39 teams! Keep it up! We're cheering for you guys!!
  • Bike parking will be limited today, as the sidewalk is being… revamped? Please plan accordingly. 
  • Happy birthday, Brandon B.!

Unleashing Their Inner Sis, Boom, Bah New York Times
Cycling’s Greatest Hour The New Yorker
NASA Administrator Resigns After Leak Of Offensive Anti-Moon Email The Onion
Atoms As Big As Mountains — Neutron Stars Explained Kurzgesagt


Front Squat | WOD 9.27.14

Work up to a single set of a heavy 8 on your front squat.

Use this as a jumping off point for the next cycle 

Post loads to comments.

4 Rounds Not for Time of:
3 Rep Deadlift
20 Wall Ball Shots 

Find a heavy weight on the deadlift and stay there. Focus on perfect form.

Post loads to comments.

What movement is Noah demonstrating the set-up for?

Attention Bike People!

Bike parking will be limited today and tomorrow, as the sidewalk is being… revamped? Please plan accordingly. 

Bend, Stretch, and Mobilize Today

  • Yoga for Athletes with Coach Whitney at 10am.
  • Active Recovery is back on at 11am and noon today with Coach David.
  • If you are in Ken H.'s rings class, remember that you're meeting today from 2-3:30pm! 

The Woman Who Walked 10,000 Miles (No Exaggeration) in Three Years New York Times
How to Keep Elephants and Wolves Out of Your Yard MinuteEarth


Rest Day

Mobility Tip from Coach David: The ability for your shoulder to internally rotate is an important component of many movements you see at the gym, and this rotation is critical for maintaining a fully mobile shoulder girdle. In the above photo, Coach Fox demonstrates a common mobilization we perform using a partner to help keep the head of the humerus anchored down in the joint to prevent loss of position while stretching out. Check out these three Mobility WOD videos to learn more about internal rotation.

  • Happy birthday, David L.!
  • Happy belated birthday, Kayleigh!

Ever Wanted to Compete in a Strength Competition? 

Now's your chance—and you don't even need a singlet (but you can wear one if you want)! On Saturday, October 25th, eight gyms across the US and Canada will hold a strength lifting meet organized by Starting Strength coaches. Three attempts to establish a one-repetition maximum in the Squat, Press, and Deadlift. The competition will be both local and international. Coach Fox and others will be attending the event in Queens from 8am to 4pm, and there are still a few places left if you want to compete. Learn more here.

Each meet will have its own winners, but the results from all the meets will also be combined and the best lifters announced. Each best lifter wins a spot at a Starting Strength Seminar.

Want to be in a Comedic Short about CrossFit?

An athletic tape company that specializes in CrossFit needs fit, funny men to audition for the lead role in a series of comedic shorts. Comedic experience is a plus. The production company will be shooting on October 4 and 5, and will pay $400. If you're interested in learning more about the project or would like to audition, reach out to Chris at chris [at] chrischuang.com, and send your info (resume, headshots, reel). 

APPLE Iphone 6 Parody Commercial by IKEA "BookBook”
Want to get more sleep into your routine? Try "Face Time Party Snoozer" Adult Swim
Stretching Doesn't Work (the Way You Think It Does) Breaking Muscle
What Do You Wish You Had Learned in College? The Atlantic


Cleans | WOD 9.25.14

Performance: Heavy Single Power Clean
Must be a crisp catch and above parallel in order to count. 

Fitness: Pull to Knee + Hang Power Clean
Focus on finishing your entire second pull.

Post loads to comments.

5 Rounds of:
1:00 Single Under, Double Under, or Triple Under Practice
1:00 Hollow Rocks, Planks, or Sit-Ups
1:00 Rest

Post what you worked on to comments.

Coach Jeremy and Margie got hitched on Saturday up at Herondale Farm (our CSA partner). CFSBKers Samir C. and Jack L. officiated. Note the barbell and bumper posts.

News and Notes

  • Did you miss the deadline to register for Fight Gone Bad and are now bummed you're going to miss the fun? Bum no more! If we get 5 more people to sign up, we'll have a team. Email Info [at] CrossFitSouthBrooklyn.com ASAP to get on the wait list!
  • Gina G. is looking for an awesome human to adopt her beloved cat Lyla Garrity. (Yes, she’s named after a Friday Night Lights character.) Lyla is a lover and a sassy lady. She’s 6 years old. She’s a real cats' cat. She purrs all the time and loves curling up next to you on the couch. Check out Miss Lyla's cat flyer and some additional pics here! You can also learn more on CFSBK Classifieds!
  • Happy birthday, Andrew C.!

Fight Gone Bad Fundraising Tips 

Have you started fundraising for Fight Gone Bad? You and your team should be registered with CrowdRise. We've included some fundraising tips below to get you started, adapted from Convio. We've also included info below about Brooklyn Community Foundation (the organization for which we're raising money!). 

Tip #1: Start early. The sooner you start asking for donations, the more money you will raise. 

Tip #2: Set a challenging but attainable goal. Your fundraising goal should be a stretch, but doable. If you are getting close to your goal, then raise it so people continue to donate.

Tip #3: Contact everyone you know. Start with your email address book, then your regular  address book and member lists from clubs you belong to. You’ll be surprised who gives! 

Tip #4: Customize your emails. Make the email template yours! Include a personal story — why you’re raising money, why it’s important to you, and where the money goes. (Tell people why you love Brooklyn, and why you love CFSBK and that we partner with BCF!) 

Tip #5: Create an email schedule and stick to it. Set dates to send a first email announcing your participation, a second email asking for donations, an update email, and a ‘last chance’ email.

Tip #6: Ask, ask, and ask again. People can only make a donation if you give them the opportunity. Don’t be shy about asking more than once. People need to be reminded! 

Tip #7: Add social media to the mix. Use status updates in Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to update friends on your fundraising and provide a direct link to your fundraising webpage.

Tip #8: Get creative. Add the URL for your fundraising webpage to your email signature. Give out “piggy banks” and ask people to save their change for a month. Hold an auction. Throw a party!

Tip #9: Stay focused. Remind yourself of why you are participating in the event, and how the money you will raise will help others. Turn to other fundraisers for inspiration and ideas.

Tip #10: Send a personalized thank you. After you’ve completed your fundraising, send your results to donors and thank them again for their help. You might need their support again next year! (And dude, always say thank you. It’s the right thing to do.)

Learn More about Brooklyn Community Foundation

Brooklyn Community Foundation is proud to partner with CrossFit South Brooklyn on the Fight Gone Bad for the third year running. CFSBK members have raised over $70,000 over the past two years for Brooklyn communities. Funds from last year’s competition went towards the Foundation’s Healthy Communities initiative to increase access to healthy food and open space in the neighborhoods of Brownsville, Red Hook, and Fort Greene through the support of the following organizations: 

  • Added Value in Red Hook for continuing to operate the new farm on NYCHA Red Hook West property and to provide ongoing education programming.
  • Brownsville Partnership in Brownsville to facilitate walking groups, bike tours, and a youth operated farmers market. Young people from Brownsville were hired as Youth Health Ambassadors to help run the farmers market and to work with 8 local bodegas to provide affordable healthy food options to the community.
  • Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Program to expand the Myrtle Eats Fresh Program by hiring Community Chefs (local residents who complete a basic culinary and nutrition workshop) to perform demos at local senior centers, farmers markets, and community centers; to continue healthy shopping tours for NYCHA residents and expand tour sites to include additional market near Farragut houses; to organize 2-3 skill workshops per season for gardeners at the Whitman and Ingersoll houses.
  • Brooklyn Food Coalition in all three neighborhoods to organize Food Change training workshops in schools and Youth Food Town Halls in order to improve school food options. 

Life in Yellow BBC Earth
The Flight of a Moth, In Extreme Slow Motion The Atlantic
2014 Is on Pace to Be the Warmest Year Ever Mother Jones
How Bad Are Your Drinking Habits? An 18th-Century Temperance Thermometer Has the Verdict Slate


Back Squat | WOD 9.24.14

Fitness and Performance: Work up to a heavy triple on the Paused Squat.
Have a partner count out "1 one-thousand, 2 one-thousand" before rising. No missed reps, use spotters if you're not 100% sure you'll make all three reps. Rerack if you think you might miss mid set. 

Fitness Transition: If you've been doing Fitness programming and have cleared a full Linear Progression, find a heavy single to use for the upcoming programming cycle.

Post loads to comments.

20 Minutes, Not for Rounds of:
Run 400m
16 Unbroken Kettlebell Swings (go heavy)
3, 6 or 9 Strict Pull-Ups (add weight if desired) 

Post notes to comments.

September Athlete of the Month: Michael Crumsho

By Chris Fox

September's Athlete of the Month has been sitting in the wings for almost as long as he’s been a member. I must confess that the first time his name came up as a potential AOM, my response was an emphatic, “Let’s let him be a member for while!” Mike has since proven to be a diligent, coachable athlete who has trained consistently since Foundations. He has in fact been around for a while now, and here’s our chance to get to know him a bit better.

Fox: Mike, how did your journey to CrossFit South Brooklyn begin?

MC: It actually began somewhat begrudgingly, and long before I’d heard of CrossFit. To start way back, I turned 30 years old and decided to get in shape. At a recent doctor visit, I weighed in at 297 pounds with a fasted glucose level of 155. Needless to say I was in need of change. It was around then that I started lifting weights, with my long time college buddy Todd C. paving my path. He introduced me to Starting Strength and I followed that and then eventually 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler with lots of assistance work. During that time Todd had started at CFSBK and I was hating on it. I had all the standard arguments against it, from it being for shirtless and mindless bros, to a lack of thought or purpose in programming. I was making pretty good progress with the lifting and Todd was a completely non-assertive influence, though after seeing some of that years Fight Gone Bad photos, I decided to give CF a shot. Camille and I joined a Foundations class in October of 2013, a little less than a year ago.

Fox: Glad you decided to join us! 297 is a big weight for you, I can’t imagine it. Where are you at now? And what really was the deciding factor in joining CF after lifting on your own? 

MC: I can’t say I truly enjoyed lifting on my own, and I’d developed my fair share of gym “enemies.” Ask me about the Jeff Van Gundy look alike who would occupy the squat rack for an hour to do dips and curls... the final straw was when I hurt my back in June of 2013. I suffered an L4/L5 herniation, likely while deadlifting, that sidelined me. Looking back I believe I had unrealistic goals regarding my training and I recognized that I really needed to just listen to someone else and have eyes on me. I needed to take a few steps back and focus on the things that mattered, like moving well, and also to work on some more complex movement patterns that would increase my movement pool overall. You (Fox) and Ro showed me right away that I would in fact have eyes on me and also that I had a lot to learn.

Fox: What is it about CFSBK that keeps you coming back?

MC: CFSBK appeals to me for a variety of reasons. There’s a level of intelligence in programming with consistent exposure to movements. There’s the vibe in general with the (usually) good music, the inclusive atmosphere vs the solitariness of the Y where I used to train, and the balance that’s struck between a DIY approach and personal training. There are a bunch of things that I still need to get better at, including HSPUs, double unders, and muscle ups. Overall though the tangible progress I am making is a large enough reason to keep coming. My first squat exposure was 55x5x3. I ended this last cycle at 275x5x3, and hit a 1RM of 305. It’s still a bit off from my historical 1RM, but mentally it feels like I am back in the game, with better form to boot. After my previous injury I was scared of deadlifts, now I’m comfortable with the them and hit 390 for a 1RM the last time we worked on this lift. I see myself developing in a very positive and quantifiable way.

Fox: Tell us about you outside of the gym. Were you athletic as a kid? What do you do outside of nerding out on your training? 

MC: I’m from outside of Philadelphia. I played football and swam as a kid, and focused on basketball in high school. I never really gave much of a thought to rowing until I got to CFSBK, which is a little strange given that my high school was pretty well-known for its crew team. I guess the “henley and Penn cap” lifestyle conflicted with the whole “eat mushrooms, listen to My War” thing I was trying to cultivate at the time. Anyway, I gave up sports in college to basically become captain of the bong team and hang out at the radio station. During my time at at NYU, between 1998 and 2006, I was a Music Director and DJ on a couple programs—The New Afternoon Show—and I also started a program called Outside that played weirder, more experimental stuff.

My longstanding passion has been music. I’ve always been a pretty avid collector, and have a few thousand CDs and LPs in our apartment—if you don’t see me show up in class for a few days it will be safe to assume that I have finally been crushed under the weight of them. I have played synthesizers and “sang” in a few bands. I’ve also written as a music journalist for outlets such as The Voice, the AP, and The Baltimore City Paper. I consider myself to have a strong punk ethic but my ear ranges from Minor Threat all the way to electronic, jazz, psych rock, and folk music. Arthur Russell, Alice Coltrane, and Fela Kuti are a few of my faves at the moment. I recently discovered that Windhand are one of the LOUDEST live bands out there...

I really just simply love good music. In fact I met my partner, (Front Desk superstar) Camille, through the music scene. We were on the same punk and hardcore forums and connected through there. Aside from music I’m pretty tame. Career-wise, I am a brand/product manager and content strategist that develops digital products like apps and websites. For the past seven years, I’ve focused on the medical education and point-of-care side of things, helping to steer a publishing company out of books and into the interwebs. I like to chill out and watch movies and TV shows, I’m a huge Trekkie but I won’t force that on the readers. Really, cooking a good meal at home and maybe watching a movie is a great night for Cam and I. 

Fox: Great stuff, Mike. Last stock question: What should we look for in a future AOM? 

MC: Someone whose demeanor is the same whether they’re first or last to finish. You know, to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. When I bit off more than I could chew and tried "Angie" Rx’d a couple months ago, I remember and appreciate the people like Jason and Pierre who stuck around and cheered even though they were finished. Finally, someone who listens. You’ll get something out of simply coming to a CrossFit gym and being exposed to cool movements at high intensity, but you’ll miss the point if you don’t take the advice and cueing of your coaches. Being a humble, coachable athlete is important. 

  • Happy birthday, Coach McDowell! 
  • We begin our new cycle next week. If you want to see what's on tap, check out the updated Current Programming Cycle link in the left sidebar

Are You Authentic? Wisecrack
Battle of the Ants BBC Earth
Cat Performance Review McSweeney’s
Walk Off Depression and Beat Stress Outdoors Science Daily